Monday, March 19, 2012

Elsewhere: CotD/Cranky Blogging

Over at Post Partisan I took a shot at ABC's This Week and Jonathan Karl, who perpetuated the myth that Barack Obama's approval ratings took a dive last week (as you'll no doubt recall, it was just a fluky poll).

First of all, credit where it's due: I got this from Josh Huder, who tweeted it, and therefore earns a Catch of the Day.

Second, and tangentially related, I'm going to disagree with Paul Waldman, who was all upset this morning about yet another, and apparently a record-breaking, appearance by John McCain on a Sunday show. Waldman says that the Sunday shows are "tremendously influential," but I see very little evidence that they are. Indeed, I'm not sure they ever were. It's true that there's a long history of people using the Sunday shows to float trial balloons or otherwise engage in sophisticated signalling among elites, but that's not the same thing as saying that they (as Waldman claims) "confer status on the people who appear, they define the limits of official debate, and they help set the agenda for the rest of the media." I suspect that only perhaps the first of those is true now, and I'm not certain that the past was any different.

Regardless: in my view, complaints about partisan balance on these shows are legitimate (although to a large extent a waste of time, given that I just don't see the shows as all that important). However, as I've said many times before, if there's partisan balance then which Republican is chosen is only the concern of other Republicans, and vice versa. If Republicans, for whatever reason, are satisfied to have John McCain representing them all the time, then there's no issue here.

Democrats would certainly have a legitimate complaint if Joe Lieberman was trotted out to speak for them. And, again, the parties have a definite beef to complain about if the other party has more screen time on these neutral shows. But that's it.

At any rate, all of this is good reason to completely ignore the Sunday shows. As most of the American people do.

And: nice catch!


  1. Jonathan, why aren't the Sunday morning shows something of an analogue to some of the ways "party actors" wield influence in the presidential nominating process?

    In this case, the "party actors" are the "Villagers"---those at the top of the media, political and governmental institutions that "run Washington". The Sunday morning shows then become a way (not the only one) that those "actors" signal who's a serious "candidate" and who's not, and which political ideas are "serious" and which aren't.

    How do you see the difference?

  2. It's not a coincidence that Karl was feeding this meme that Obama is unpopular. I believe he's pretty conservative, so he was grasping at a conservative meme. This isn't innocent headline-chasing, it's closer to the bullshit Fox does every time they run any story about anything. So I fear your exhortations will accomplish naught.

  3. "...all of this is good reason to completely ignore the Sunday shows. As most of the American people do."

    Ahhhh... well, yes, but without the Sunday festivities, we wouldn't have Jason Linkins' Sunday Morning Talking Heads (HuffPo), and then what would I get all snarky about on Sunday mornings?

  4. I think what's influential about sunday shows is how they feed all the blogs and columns for the week.

  5. "I'm not certain that the past was any different." That's because you're young. Back in the day when you were lucky to receive 3 TV stations, and mass media meant Time and Newsweek, and the Times was the paper of record, Lawrence Spivak was very influential.


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